In March of 2020, businesses and event professionals postponed or canceled their painstakingly planned live events in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. Virtual events soon became the norm, and organizers figured out new ways to engage audiences online.
Now, in the wake of the pandemic, a new type of event has emerged: the hybrid event. Hybrid events combine online and offline experiences, giving people a choice to attend in person or watch from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
From a business perspective, the benefits of hosting hybrid events are many:
- Access to a larger audience: The virtual side of your event can extend across borders and time zones, increasing your reach
- Increased ROI: A bigger reach can lead to greater sponsorship opportunities, and the flexibility of hybrid events reduces financial risk
- Easier data collection: Remote and onsite attendees can leave feedback via mobile event apps or in-person surveys
- Reduced environmental impact: There’s no need for attendees to travel, and you can cut back on catering and disposables
- Peace of mind: Team members and attendees alike can join in without putting themselves or others at risk
According to a whitepaper by BizBash and Mediasite Events, four out of five event professionals believe hybrid events are here to stay. So, how do you plan a hybrid event, and what are the best practices for hosting a successful one?
Hybrid event planning tips
All events, whether in-person, virtual, or a mix of both, require careful planning. Consider these six tips to organize a successful hybrid event.
Set out a vision for the event
Every event needs a clear purpose. Who is your hybrid event for? Why should they want to come? What will they learn? These are all important things to consider. Setting out your vision at the very beginning will provide more clarity as you plan the event — and give your potential audience an understanding of what to expect.
Create a detailed event plan
A plan is essential for any event, but especially for the delicate balancing act that is a hybrid event management. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How many sessions will be hosted per day?
- How long will the sessions run?
- Will there be different activities for both the virtual audience and in-person audience?
- Who are your speakers?
- What are your team’s roles and responsibilities for the event?
You’ll also need to plot out a marketing strategy for each audience to build anticipation for the event, highlight the key speakers, and showcase exclusive sessions.
Choose your hybrid event platform wisely
When choosing a venue for an in-person event, you consider the location of the space, the facilities, and the capacity. The same care must be taken when selecting your virtual venue. You need a hybrid event platform that offers live streaming, session recording, engagement features like chat and polls, tech support, and high-quality video and audio. See if you can request a demo from your chosen virtual event platform before finalizing your decision.
Remember, many of your virtual attendees will require more breaks throughout the day or may only be able to log in for an hour or two. Make a plan to provide content on-demand so they can access it at a more convenient time to enhance their event experience.
Tailor your content to your audience
Your hybrid conference should not feel like two separate events but one event that can be experienced in two ways. Prepare your presenters to be recorded and speak in front of a camera, and don’t include any activities that one section of your audience cannot participate in.
Ensure your content is relevant to both sets of event attendees, or offer them an alternative if this is not possible, like a virtual networking session that runs alongside an onsite one. In joint sessions, engage your audience with live polls and Q&As and keep things snappy — no one, online or offline, wants to sit through a three-hour speech.
Communicate with your attendees
Communicating with your audience is essential — it’s how you get the word out about your event. In the lead-up to your hybrid event, create an event webpage where attendees can register and access all the key details, from the location to the agenda. In the weeks beforehand, send out email reminders and tailored speaker announcements to build anticipation.
Keep up a high level of communication during the event too. Your virtual attendees will need clear instructions on how to register for the event, access the sessions, and use the platform’s engagement features. Lay everything out in pre-written FAQs and consider appointing a “virtual host” to guide attendees throughout the day. This host can remind the audience of the schedule, answer any questions they might have about the platform or event, and introduce virtual-only activities.
Expect the unexpected
As with any occasion that brings hundreds of people together, hybrid events can be rife with pitfalls. Technical issues, platform glitches, confusion amongst attendees over where to go and what to do — all these things can derail sessions and cause delays.
If you run into difficulties on the day, don’t panic. Reschedule what you need to, communicate any changes to your attendees, and get on with the show.
How to plan a hybrid event with Wrike
While in-person events are returning, there will continue to be a role for the hybrid event as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wrike’s event planning tools make organizing virtual and onsite activities a breeze — use our Event Planning Template to break the project into tasks, assign work to team members, and monitor progress with custom statuses and dashboards.
Interactive Gantt charts help you plan with precision, while the calendar view shows important milestones and deadlines at a glance, so you never miss a detail.
Want to start planning hybrid events? Get a free, two-week Wrike trial today and see how easy hybrid event planning can be.